Things That Matter

ICE Is Intentionally Overcrowding Detention Centers And The Results Are Dangerous And Preventable Illness Outbreaks

It’s been several months since initial reports of an outbreak of mumps in ICE detention centers.

Yet despite a potentially illegal quarantine of more than 2,000 migrants, ICE has failed to contain the spread of potentially life-threatening illnesses among its detention centers.

A new report shows a growing health crisis for migrants held by ICE and that the agency is failing to address the issue.

Credit: @qz / Twitter

The agency first told the public in early March that it had identified over the past year some 236 “confirmed or probable” cases of mumps in its detention centers across the country, compared to zero cases the previous year. ICE has not updated the public since then.

But new reports show that the disease has spread in recent months, affecting detention centers across multiple states.

Credit: @qz / Twitter

According to a report by Quartz, migrants from more than 30 facilities nationwide said they have been quarantined for mumps and, in some cases, chickenpox.  

In Texas, some 300 migrants have been diagnosed with mumps in the state’s federal immigration facilities since October 2018. Meanwhile, the disease has spread to ICE immigration facilities in at least 11 other US states.

In Arizona, where ICE holds about 3,000 migrants, the epidemic is so serious that local health officials have launched an official investigation into its spread.

Mumps is a viral disease that affects the salivary glands, causing painful swelling.

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The disease spreads quickly and can have serious complications, but it’s not fatal and is easily prevented with a vaccine. But the rate at which it’s spreading through government-run detention centers shows how ill-prepared the government is in the event of a more serious health problem.

The news of mumps infections comes after eight children have died while in government custody because of health issues.

Credit: @Slate / Twitter

FACT: there were zero minor deaths for eight years until the deaths of eight children in the last eight months. Many are blaming the overcrowding and lack of access to healthcare for children.

Some took to Twitter to shut down false reporting trying to blame migrants for ‘bringing the disease.’

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Often times, diseases like mumps are opportunistic infections that proliferate in conditions like those at ICE detention centers which have thousands of migrants in close quarters without access to vaccines.

What’s perhaps even more troubling, are the widespread quarantines occurring in detention centers putting migrants on lockdown for weeks.

While under quarantine, migrants can’t meet with their lawyers and they can’t attend court proceedings, including bond or asylum hearings. This means migrants are being denied the rights US law guarantees asylum seekers.

All of this is happening to people who have never even committed a crime. According to Syracuse University, 60% of the migrants in ICE detention have never been convicted of a crime. Yet they’re being forcibly detained for weeks or months in a patchwork of privately-run facilities, local sheriff’s offices, and even federal detention prisons.

Migrants are living in over-crowded detention centers that essentially look, feel, and function like prison cells.

Credit: @MJMusicEars / Twitter

Severe overcrowding plagues detention centers all over the US, presenting a huge risk to migrants. At a facility in El Paso, some people were held in “standing room only” cells for weeks despite fderal policy that states people generally shouldn’t be held fore more than 72 hours.

Migrants are being forced to stand on toilets just to find air to breathe.

Credit: @Salandelux / Twitter

In a report by the New York Times, investigators found that migrants had limited access to showers and clean clothes. Some people were “wearing soiled clothing for days or weeks.”

Investigators found 155 people in a cell that was supposed to hold 35, and 41 people in a cell that was supposed to hold eight. Nine hundred people were being held at the center on one day in May — far exceeding its capacity of 125.

The severe overcrowding at these detention centers is causing an immense risk to their health and to the public.

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